Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine could be a key component to impeachment investigation of Trump
The document that’s out right now from the White House is not the “complete, fully declassified and unredacted transcript” Trump promised in an earlier Tweet. Instead, it’s being called a “rough log” of a 30-minute call between the President and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, which took place in July of this year, a month or two after his election. We are providing a direct link to it here.
This is purely conjecture on our part, but if the White House’s depiction of the call was not robustly edited (and clearly their document does not represent a full 30-minute call), it was almost certainly robustly “shaped”. That’s because it reads like nobody talks in real life.
Of course there is one other possibility: the reason the language used by both parties is so stilted is because they’re speaking in a kind of code.
But whether the Trump team’s output is the outcome of an effort to neaten things up, or Trump and Zelensky were speaking in easily decodable code, the results are damning enough.
The White House was pretty clearly hoping their abbreviated document would become accepted as the defining and vindicating version of events. Just as the Trump-friendly memo written by Attorney General Bill Barr about the Mueller Report became the sum total of the Mueller Report for many. And the White House’s main talking point (one of a whole bunch which were accidentally released to Democrats in Congress) is indeed borne out by what they produced: Trump made no explicit “promise”. But the document also strongly illustrated that he had no need to in order to get his point across.
Here it is in even more of a nutshell (done by us):
- President Zelensky asks for more U.S. made missiles, and later an invite to the White House (presumably to establish himself on an international stage, giving him some measure of protection against Russia, which had been very literally attacking Ukraine in recent years).
- Trump responds immediately to the request for more missiles (at least according to this document) with “I would like you to do us a favor though…”, which winds up being a series of favors, including an investigation of Joe Biden and his son. Trump also drops a hint as how he’d like that investigation turn out: “It sounds horrible to me”. Trump also promises the full force of the U.S. Justice Department, and Attorney General Bill Barr behind that investigation. And he appoints his personal lawyer, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani as a de-facto special envoy to Ukraine in charge of all things Biden.
(BTW, however this turns out for Trump, and even though accusations Biden intervened to help his son have been debunked and discredited and don’t fit the timeline Trump lays out, we do believe it will hurt Biden as a candidate.)
Anyway, this is where Marie Yovanovitch comes in to the conversation. Giuliani’s been poking around Ukraine for dirt on Biden for some time. But Trump implies that effort couldn’t go full throttle until he got rid of his pesky Ambassador. (The U.S. currently has no Ambassador to Ukraine, unless you want to count Giuliani):
“The former ambassador from the United States, the woman, was bad news, and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news so I just want to let you know that.”
“The woman” is Ambassador Yovanovitch. According to the Washington Post, Giuliani’s now trying to spread a rumor that since her ouster she’s gone to work for George Soros. But also according to the Post, she’s actually still in the employ of the State Department.
Yovanovitch is a career diplomat who was appointed Ambassador to Ukraine by President Obama in 2016, but had served under presidents of both parties. She was previously Ambassador to Armenia and Kyrgyzstan, and was Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine under George W. Bush. She also survived as Ambassador for nearly 3 years under Trump, until…what?
Yet her removal is represented by Trump as essential to him getting done what he wanted to get done in Ukraine? That raises only one question in our minds: Why? So even though Ambassador Yovanovitch was gone by the time the fateful phone call took place, we believe her role in relation to Trump’s ambitions in Ukraine, specifically what he couldn’t manage to do while she was there, could be critical, and central to any investigation of Trump. That includes whether he deliberately intended to withhold delivery of U.S. aid until Ukraine’s government at least implicitly promised to deliver dirt on one of his chief political rivals, and by extension, help him get re-elected. “The United States has been very, very good to Ukraine”, Trump keeps reminding Zelensky.
Meanwhile, we don’t yet know who the whistleblower is who blew this whole thing open, or what might be contained in the report detailing his or her complaint. Some of that may come soon: Trump’s newly-minted Acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire is set to testify today before the House Intelligence Committee, starting at 9:00 A.M. Eastern.